Your garden can be an oasis. But it can also be a minefield for cats, dogs, and other pets. That’s why it’s important to choose pet-safe plants for your backyard.
Many plants that are pretty to us can be deadly to your pets. You might not think that the humble vegetable garden could pose a danger, but it, too, has its hazards.
The first step to choosing pet-safe plants for your backyard is to know what to avoid.
Plants that are poisonous for pets
Take a look out your back window. Which plants do you see? Some very common plants can pose a hazard to your pets. These include:
- Many types of mushrooms
- All flower bulbs
- Autumn crocus
- Bleeding heart
- Box tree (Boxwood)
- Castor bean or castor oil plant
- Chinaberry tree
- English Ivy (both leaves and berries)
- Jerusalem cherry
- Lilies (some types are more poisonous than others)
- Sago Palm
- Stinging nettles
- Thorn apple or jimsonweed
- Tulip/Narcissus bulbs
- Virginia creeper
We’ll talk more about this in a bit.
Pet Safe Plants for Your Backyard
So, what can you put in your garden? Here are some of our favorites.
Pet safe flowers
Don’t worry. Safe can be beautiful, too.
Who doesn’t love brightly colored Gerbera daisies?
These cheerful flowers originally came from South Africa. The blossoms can be anywhere from two to five inches across, and they come in a rainbow of happy shades, including white, orange, yellow, and salmon.
Gerberas thrive in full sun and sandy soil. They’re low-maintenance flowers and can thrive both outside and in containers.
Exotic orchids are a bit trickier than daisies. You might not think of them as an outdoor plant, but given the right conditions and care, orchids can thrive in your backyard.
Orchids require dappled light and a consistent temperature between 40 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit. They also prefer humidity of 40 percent and above.
If this sounds like your climate, then get planting. Orchids are both beautiful and pet-safe.
That’s a relief!
Roses are many people’s favorite flowers. It would be a shame to have to choose between them and your backyard pets.
There are a huge number of rose types, from free-standing to climbing varieties. All varieties, though, thrive in full sun and well-drained soils.
Not only is the beloved rose pet safe, but it’s also edible. Roses that have not been pesticide-treated can be used in syrup and jam. You can also render the petals into rose water to flavor drinks, desserts, and other foods.
Most importantly, though, roses won’t hurt your pets.
Fun, cheerful snapdragons come in a rainbow of colors. They bloom all year round, even in winter in some places. They’re also an important source of nectar for honeybees.
Snapdragons are low-maintenance flowers and do well both indoors and out. They’re extremely hardy in the cold. They love the sun, though they can suffer from the excessive summer heat.
Snapdragons are completely safe for both cats and dogs.
Sunflowers are a family favorite. They’re hardy, easy to grow, dramatic in appearance, and offer a ready-made lesson on heliotropism and other plant behaviors. You can even harvest the seeds and chokes of some varieties.
Sunflowers are native to the Americas and grow well, even in poor soil. Many types are drought-tolerant, too.
Not only are sunflowers pet-safe, but birds will love you for the seeds.
Pet safe plants for your backyard: herbs
Herbs can make our food more interesting. And some are good for dogs and cats, too.
Here are a few herbs that are tasty and pet-safe, too.
Not only is fragrant basil magnificent in a salad or on your pizza, but it also has a pretty white flower that blooms in the summer and autumn.
Basil is rich in antioxidants. The plant is low-maintenance and grows well indoors and out. It is sensitive to cold, however, and prefers full sun.
Dogs and cats will probably ignore your basil plants, but even if they don’t, basil won’t hurt them. Bunnies love to nibble on it, too.
Cilantro adds a splash of green to your garden, to your salad, or even stirred into a hot dish. You can enjoy it fresh or dried.
Cilantro is rich in vitamins A and K, as well as antioxidants. Not only will it not harm your cats and dogs, but if you give your pet rabbit a bit from time to time, you’ll have a friend for life.
Some people think of dandelion as a weed. We prefer to think of it as a hardy, cheerful, edible plant.
Dandelions are rich in vitamin A, B, C, D, and K. They also taste great in a salad. If you have pet rabbits, they’ll enjoy the greens, too.
As you’re probably aware, dandelions can grow almost anywhere under a variety of harsh conditions.
Rosemary is a hardy plant that loves the sun. It loves the sun so much that it requires eight to ten hours of sunlight a day. It can be difficult to grow inside, but it can thrive in the backyard.
The savory smell of rosemary is difficult to mistake. It’s one of the primary spices in Italian cooking. Once you start growing your own, you’ll find practically limitless uses for it.
Rosemary is rich in antioxidants and iron. On top of that, your pets won’t come to any harm if they have a nibble.
Sage is another plant-friendly herb that you can grow easily at home.
This is a tough perennial plant with gray-green leaves and blue flowers that come out in the summer. It’s low-maintenance, drought-tolerant, and if deer are a problem for your garden, sage will encourage them to keep moving.
At the same time, sage is safe for your dogs and cats.
Pet safe plants for your backyard: edibles
Not all human food is good for your pets, but some of it really is. Here are some fruits and vegetables that all of your family can enjoy.
Cucumber is a human favorite for salads and pickles. Dogs can eat it, too, and some really enjoy it.
Cucumbers are hot-weather lovers. They need a minimum of at least 8 hours a day of sunlight and a soil temperature of at least 70 degrees Fahrenheit.
As you might have guessed from their watery insides, cucumbers need plenty of water. How much? Try one inch minimum per week.
Cucumbers grow best from seeds planted directly outside. Transplanting can harm the delicate taproot.
Green beans (string beans)
Green beans won’t harm your cat, though your cat may not be excited about them. Some dogs, on the other hand, love green beans.
What’s more, they’re very healthy for humans and dogs alike. Green beans provide Vitamins A, C, and K. Also, they’re a good source of fiber.
String beans are fun and easy to grow. They love full sunlight and require a minimum of eight hours of sun per day. They also need fertile, well-drained soil.
Start planting in the spring, once the last frost has passed and after the soil begins to warm.
Many dogs love the taste of cooked pumpkin, and it can be good for them, too. Pumpkin is rich in potassium, Vitamin C, and fiber.
Importantly, pumpkin can help with a variety of doggy digestive issues, including both constipation and diarrhea.
Pumpkins love the autumn sun, which may be why they’re associated with this time of year. They want at least 6 hours of sunlight per day and a soil temperature of around 70 degrees Fahrenheit.
Strawberries are safe for both cats and dogs. Dogs will love the sweet taste. On the other hand, cats lack sweetness receptors, so they may not be interested at all.
There are three different types of commonly-grown strawberries.
June-bearing strawberries bear fruit in the early summer. These grow best in hardiness zones 6 through 10. Ever-bearing and day-neutral strawberries do best in zones six through eight.
All types of strawberries, though, prefer 6 to 10 hours of full sun per day. They need moist, well-drained soil. Some varieties can be quite sensitive to heat, as well.
Pet safe plants for spring
When the snow melts and the sun comes out, many people’s thoughts turn to planting. Here are some pet-safe plants for your backyard that are great for spring.
Different types of asters are not only pet-safe but also easy to grow. They’re low-maintenance, drought-tolerant, and if you like birds, asters will bring them to your garden.
Different varieties produce blooms in a variety of shapes and colors, including blue, white, purple, and pink. Asters aren’t choosy about their light, though they don’t like full shade. And soil should be well-drained.
Asters begin to bloom in the spring and continue throughout the summer and fall.
Carrots grow well in full sun. They need lots of water and deep, loose, well-drained soil. Sow them in early spring, once the last frost has passed.
Carrots are high in fiber, beta carotene, and vitamin A. They’re also good for dogs’ teeth.
And your rabbits will thank you for the greens, though the carrots themselves are too sugary for regular rabbit consumption.
Spinach is rich in iron, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fiber. It’s versatile, too. Whether you’re using it as a base for a salad, as a cooked side dish, or as the star ingredient, spinach is indeed a superfood.
Both your cat and dog can enjoy spinach raw or cooked. Be careful, though. In addition to necessary nutrients, spinach contains high levels of oxalic acid.
Oxalic acid can interfere with the body’s absorption of calcium. In large amounts, it can also be harmful to dogs with kidney conditions.
Spinach is super easy to grow. It prefers full sun but thrives in cool temperatures. Plant spinach first thing in the spring, in moist, well-drained soil.
Thyme is a rugged, fragrant herb. Some varieties grow close to the ground and can even be used as ground cover. Others put forth pretty red, white, or pink flowers in the spring.
Thyme comes from the Mediterranean area and is used to poor, rocky soil. It’s drought-tolerant and prefers dry weather.
If you like birds, thyme will attract them. At the same time, it won’t harm your dogs or cats.
Did you ever try to grow watermelon from the seeds of a grocery store watermelon? How did that work out?
You can grow watermelon from seeds, given the right conditions. They like it hot, with well-drained sandy soil and a pH between 6.0 and 6.5. Sow them outdoors once the soil temperature is above 65 degrees Fahrenheit.
Not only is watermelon pet safe, but dogs love it. It is pretty high in sugar, though, so treat it as you would any doggy dessert.
What’s In Your Pet Safe Garden?
There’s a lot to consider when planning your garden. Not only is it important to think about what to grow and how it will look. You also need to make sure that your garden space contains pet-safe outdoor plants for spring.
Many common flowers, plants, fruits, and vegetables look, smell, and taste great to us. But they can be quite harmful to our beloved pets.
On the other hand, with a little planning and research, you can find a cornucopia of plants that are not only pet safe but also delicious and nutritious for your dogs and cats.
What’s in your pet safe garden? Did we miss any of your favorites? Tell us all about it in the comments!
Last update on 2021-03-13 at 00:52 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API